May 31, 2010

Random Monday

 Seems that as I start the week, things come together all randomly.  The beginnings of to-do lists, the beginning of plans.  This week is all about the planning, since Denny, Megan, Natalie and I leave for Squam on Wednesday. (10 hour drive to New Hampshire. I'd be excited but for that I'm driving - Megan will share some with me, but still, at best that's not going to be my favourite sort of driving day, which is the sort where someone else drives and I knit, but considering that what I'm driving for is is knitting/writing time, I'll suck it up.)  

1. Well. It seems that all of you have lots of opinions on what is lace, and what is not lace.  It would seem also that Steven got his opinion on what is lace kicked all the way around the block and back.  The final tally was:

A) Lace is stable holes deliberately created.  Steven is wrong.  748.
B) Lace is anything really sheer. Steven is right. 79
C) There might be another definition of lace, but that's not it.  345
D) Something else. 31

I'll be buying Steven a beer when I see him in July, since he's on the losing end of the stick. (For the record, because a few people asked, I'm in the A camp, which is why I have to buy him the beer, and maybe bring him a little laceweight and a nice Pretty Thing pattern.  That's lace.)

2. Guess who turned 21 yesterday?

My pretty girl Amanda.  I'm thrilled with how she's turning out.  One of the nicest things I ever made.

3. I can't believe one of my children is that old. 

4. The willow sweater isn't finished.  It's all sewn up and there's only the buttonbands to do, but I really, really hate doing buttonbands and I'm putting it off in the fond hopes that little elves will come in the night and take care of it.

No luck yet.

5. While I was avoiding that, I knit a little scarf.

It's the Wavy Bee Scarf from Fiddlesticks Knitting, and I can't believe how quickly it knit up. 

Two evenings, if that.   I ordered it two weeks ago in a moment of weakness, and was trying to force myself to finish the sweater before I knit it.  Obviously I failed.

Yarn is Silk Sensation in Robins Egg. (2 balls)

6. I admit that it's hard to see it as a failure when you have a lace scarf to show for it though.  This could be why I don't really aim for self discipline with knitting.

7. That could be why I started the Wavy Leaf scarf.

Silk Sensation in Sprout.

8. I think I'm on a serious lace tear. 

9. I wish the elves would come for that sweater. I think that the heat wave here in Toronto might be putting them off as much as it is me. Nothing like a lap full of wool/silk to up the ante- especially when it would be crazy to put it on when it's finished.

10. I think it is cooler in New Hampshire than here. Maybe I could use that as motivation for finishing. I might need a sweater at Squam. 

Posted by Stephanie at 12:56 PM

May 27, 2010

While Waiting

I'm sewing up the sweater.  Sewing, sewing, sewing. It's magnificently boring, and I won't give you the details of how I do it because there's tons and tons and tons of great tutorials on-line and in books already.  (There's a great Norah Gaughan video on mattress stitch here, and there's a similarly awesome one here for how to set in a sleeve.  I'm doing the same thing.)  Instead of boring the lint off you with instructions that wouldn't be as good as theirs, I'm instead going to invite you to a debate. 

A few days ago Steven A wrote to me and told me about this.  It's a contest.  Essentially the yarn shop is challenging people to knit socks and lace for the summer and at the end of the time, they'll add up yardage knit and see who the winner is. Steven (who might be a tiny little bit of a competitive person. Just guessing, don't know him very well) is eager to participate in this challenge, but has taken umbrage with the shops definition of "lace".  Apparently the shop is using Elizabeth Zimmermann's definition, which is that lace is a series of yarn-overs with accompanying decreases used to make holes.

Steven would like to knit this sweater: The Whisper Cables Pullover (rav link, my apologies.) by Veronik Avery, and thinks that it should qualify as lace. He's outvoted by both the shop rules (which is probably what matters in the end) and by popular local argument. (I believe that his exact words were "everyone is against me.")

Now, his argument is (sort of loose) but he essentially says that if you're deliberately using larger needles to create "openwork" (on account of how open the work will be, because the needles are so big) that it's lace.  He thinks that the Zimmermann definition is too rigid, and that the field needs to be opened up.  He thinks that if work is essentially translucent (meaning that you can more or less see through it) that then it should count as lace.  Holes are holes, no matter how you get there, appears to be the central point of his argument. He's not the only one in the world to think that... I mean, Debbie New called one of her techniques "scribble lace" and it doesn't have a yarn over in sight... and I don't know if I'd argue with Debbie New.  (She's pretty smart.)  He also argues that the point (holes with decreases) is too narrow, and that other exceptions have already been made.  Like - a series of buttonholes created with  yarn-overs and  accompanying decreases fit the definition, but are obviously not lace - or that the yarn-over increases down the centre spine of a shawl obviously are, even though they have no accompanying decreases.

I'm not sure what I think.  My personal definition of lace is "a deliberately created series of  holes created for decoration" (or something like that) and Wikipedia says "Lace knitting is a style of knitting characterized by stable "holes" in the fabric arranged with consideration of aesthetic value." That definition seems to imply yarn-overs, since a hole created otherwise, like with big needles isn't stable - it can borrow room,  or room can be borrowed from it by the surrounding stitches.  The Lace Guild says "Perhaps the most striking feature is the part that is missing: lace is full of holes! These holes are formed as the lace is made..." which also seem to imply the creation of holes, rather than just the presence of them.  My dictionary (the Canadian Oxford Concise) says "1. a fine open fabric, esp. of cotton or silk, made by weaving thread in patterns and used esp. to trim blouses, underwear etc." which is obviously not a knitting definition (seriously. Underwear is mentioned but not a shawl? These are not our people) but may support Steven's argument - as unrelated to knitting as it is.
I suppose we could ask Veronik too... I mean, it's her pattern. Surely she has a definition of lace, and would be able to say that whether or not she thinks her pattern qualifies. 

It comes down to this. Steven is seeking support for his point of view, and I don't know whether he's going to find it - and in the end it doesn't matter much anyway because really, the people running the contest make the rules, no matter how the vote goes (I didn't remind him of that part yet.  He already seemed demoralized.) but I suggested a blog vote to see what the popular opinion is. The main points seem to be this: Is it lace if holes are present (like with a very, very loose gauge)  or is it lace only if the holes are created as the result of an action, like a yarn over. 

Your choices are:

A. Steven, I'm sorry, but lace happens when you deliberately create and place stable holes on purpose.  Suck it up and pick another pattern.  That's not lace.

B. You know what? We should loosen up.  Holes are holes man, and if you've got holes that showed up because you meant to get holes, than that's lace no matter how you got them. 

C. I sort of agree that maybe there's other ways to make lace than yarn-overs, but really dude. That's a cabled sweater, not a scribble lace scarf and you're stretched too thin on this one.  Try harder Steven, you've almost got me.

D. Something else.

Kindly leave your thoughts and votes in the comments - and Steven? You might want to crack a beer for this.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:44 PM

May 26, 2010

Really, every time

This morning someone called the house while I was beginning the process of making up the Willow sweater, and described what I was doing, and the person on the other end of the line went completely quiet.  Usually this is a sign that I am doing something most other people don't do. I mean, I get the same response anytime I say something like "cleaning a drum carder" or "organizing my laceweights" - I'm used to it and it doesn't flip me out anymore.  I just don't tell ordinary people what I'm doing with fibre a lot.  I save it for my knitting friends.  Now, the interesting thing is that the person that I was talking to this morning was one of my knitting friends, and she still thought I was acting freaky.  She even went so far as to say things like "really?" and "every time?"  I didn't have time to explain to her then why I do what I do, and why I think it's important, so if nobody minds I'm going to take a minute and to it now.

When I finish a sweater, before I sew anything up, I wash and properly wet block all the pieces.  I know, I know.  This is the part where everyone tells me that they don't do it. That they sew everything up and then block, or they tell me they don't block, or I find out that we define block differently, or they tell me they only steam block and never wet block (which is usually a lie) or... well.  A whole bunch of stuff. Here's what I do - this is what I mean.

First, all the pieces are done and they all go for a swim in cool water with Eucalan or Soak.  (I like both.)

They go for swim before I sew up for lots of good reasons.  For starters, now is a great time to find out that I was really, really wrong about the swatch. I would rather know right this minute that the sweater is much bigger after a wash - than  find out after I've sewn the whole thing up and gone to all the trouble of doing button bands or edges or all that crap. If I find out things are really wrong now,  it's way less work to pull it back and redo the wrong parts now- rather than unpicking every seam first.  (I know myself, and I know some of you. There are those of us who will simply never correct the mistakes if it's too hard.  We'll jam it in the back of the linen closet or something.  Things need to be easy-ish or I won't do them. Knitting has to be fun.)

Also, I believe firmly and violently in wet-blocking- and I know some of you will disagree, but hear me out.  For starters, if you are ever going to wash the item that you've made, then you might as well know now what water is going to do to it - because the day you're wet blocking (whether you want to or not) is coming, and that's the day that you wash it. (That's why I don't believe people who tell me that they don't wet-block.  If you ever wash it, then you're wet-blocking.) In addition, I think we have a some confusion over the term "blocking".  Blocking in knitting means the same as it does in the theatre, which is to say that it's the determination of the  proper positioning of the players. Blocking is sort of- putting things in their right places, and that's all it is in knitting.  This means that blocking does not (and I really, really can't stress this enough)  blocking DOES NOT mean stretching, and proper blocking can make things way, way easier to make up.

After the bath, the pieces come out, I lay them on  towel(s) then roll up the towels and walk on them to get most of the water out.  (You'd be surprised how well this works.)  Then more dry towels go on my bed (which is where I usually block, that's not important) and I start laying the pieces out. To do this right, I get some pins, a measuring tape and the schematics or instructions from the pattern.

Now blocking, in terms of a sweater, means putting things in the right place. So I start doing just that.  I lay out the back, and then I look at the measurement for the length and width of the sweater, and I measure my sweater back and smoosh, guide or pat the thing until it's the right measurements. If it isn't working out - like it's way longer, shorter, narrower or wider than I planned, I know right then and there that it's not going to work out. I can let it dry and rip it back.  If it's right, I keep going.  I make the armhole the right depth, the neck the right width, and as I go along I pin it to those measurements - and as I do that, I unfold, uncurl and pat down the edges of the sweater to make it just so. 

Then I line up the fronts next to the back and do the same thing, making sure I match the armholes, fronts, total length and so forth.

When I'm done I move on to the sleeves, matching width, length.. .everything, again paying close attention to edges. 
If there are pockets or fiddly bits, then I fuss to make them the right size and shape, and then pin them in place too.

The whole thing is designed to make making up easier.  If I get the edges flat now, they're way easier to sew, and my seams look fantastic.   If the sweater has relaxed into it's final shape, then I'm going to be more accurate when I pick up stitches for the button band.  In my experience, if I sew stuff up first and then block it, I might have some nasty surprises.  Like the front and back sag but the side seams don't. That never happens if you sew it up after it sags. Or maybe the neck relaxes and is way too loose and you hate it. Better to know that before you go to do a neckband, right? Then you can compensate for it and get a better final product.  Maybe you find out while you're laying and pinning that for reasons known only to the universe and its system of checks and balances, that the sleeves are 8cm  too long.  Wet blocking and measuring before you sew it in and up means you make those changes now, before you sew it in and find out it's not wearable.  See where I'm going with this?   I'm sure you do.  Wet blocking ahead means that there are no surprises when you wash it later, and you - you are going to wash your knitting at some point, right? You're not just knitting it, wearing it until it's dirty and then throwing it away?  

The friend on the phone this morning said "Man.  What a huge pain in the ass.  I never bother to do that" and I'll tell you what I told her. 

You already spend hours and hours knitting it? Why not spend a little more time making sure it's nice?  Blocking the pieces saves time in the sewing, saves time with picking up stitches for bands and necks and ensures I get no surprises that enrage me. It's a crappy sweater prevention program, and yup. I do it every time.


Posted by Stephanie at 4:07 PM

May 25, 2010

Random Tuesday

1. It was a long weekend here in Canada, celebrating Victoria Day, which is a pretty confusing holiday to explain.  Technically it's the official celebration of the reigning Monarch's birthday- although the current Queen of Canada's birthday is the 21st of April.  The 24th of May was Queen Victoria's birthday, and it seems that it was easier just to assign a permanent birthday that was observed in Canada, no matter when the actual birthday is.  (To be fair, Australia and the UK have assigned her a birthday that isn't her birthday either.)  To further confuse things,  the May 24th long weekend isn't always on the 24th of May, but is celebrated on the Monday on or before May 24th. This weekend the holiday actually fell on May 24th, but it could have been the weekend before. (For example in 2008 it fell on May 19th.) Stubbornly though, it's still called the May 24th long weekend even if it's not on the 24th and even though technically that means that the next weekend will be the May 24 weekend. 
In any case, this weekend is regarded as the official start of summer.  It's the weekend that you can plant (in most of Canada) the weekend that you open the cottage (if you have a cottage) and the weekend that your neighbours are most likely to drink a whole whack of beer set off fireworks all weekend long, even (perplexingly, and in the case of my neighbours) when it is not dark. 

2. We put in the garden.  (We also drank beer, but not enough to consider pyrotechnics at any time of day.)

3. I'm feeling a whole lot better, and have a sweater back, both fronts and a sleeve to thank for it.

4. It has been very difficult to stay focused on the last sleeve.  I have been thinking about lace a lot.

5. I'm really glad that I have a knitting blog, because this is really the only place where I can admit that I think about lace a lot and not have people look at me funny.

6. At least for knitting.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:57 PM

May 20, 2010

Down Up Down Up

Postcard from the chesterfield, where I've been spending an unreasonable amount of time, since it turned out that the infection I started out with was only pretending to respond to an antibiotic, and instead was planning a sneak attack on my kidneys.  This was painfully clear to me on Monday (emphasis on the painfully part) and now I've got great big powerhouse antibiotics that seem to finally be winning the war.  I'm recovering, and for the first day in six days I don't feel like I got hit by a truck. Just maybe a Honda Civic.  Here's to tomorrow when I think that I can look forward to feeling like it was only a Smart Car or maybe (dare to dream) a scooter.   In the meantime, I've been knitting. Knitting and knitting, and though I tried to work on a fancy something, it turns out that the combination of drugs and the overwhelming fatigue has  robbed me of my ability to do anything other than garter stitch or great swathes of stockinette. (I've also shown a limited ability to count- but that's normal.)

This sweater has been perfect.  I snagged a copy of Louisa Harding's book Cardigans a little while ago, and it's the cover sweater "Willow" that did it.  It just looks so cozy, so inviting, so go-anywhere, that I was enraptured instantly.  The only reason it hasn't been on the needles before was that really - well. It's boring to knit. Really boring. Big sweater, lots of plain knitting - there's a little shaping to keep you awake, but that's about it, and usually I'd have to steel myself to get through it.  Break it up with some lace or mittens or something that keeps me from slipping into a stockinette coma. Right now though, when my unfortunate human frailty keeps me half in a coma anyway - it's hitting the spot - and the yarn's comforting and cushy.   LSS in Mossay, and I love this yarn.  50/50 merino and silk and I don't think you could have anything softer running through your fingers.  (I know.  I say that about a lot of yarns.) This combo- the plain knitting and the soft yarn feels right now like the knitters version of a warm bath with a cup of tea.

I can't believe I'm going to have a case of pyelonephritis to thank for a neat new sweater.  If I felt better, I'd write something about silver linings.  Maybe tomorrow.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:23 PM

May 17, 2010

Hidden Healing Power

Holy cow, what a craptastic weekend. Friday afternoon I came down with a terrible infection.   I felt so awful that evening that when Joe suggested going to urgent care, all I could honestly think was that a) I was too sick to go to the doctor (bad sign) and that b) The hospital is for people who want to live, and at that particular moment I couldn't see the point of prolonging my agony.  Saturday I got some antibiotics and painkillers and started thinking that maybe I might make it, and I spent the rest of the weekend flat on the chesterfield, snuggled with blankies and fluids and once my will to live returned, I knit.  I knit a secret stealth thing I can't show you, I knit on  a pair of socks that have been trudging along, I started a sweater- but mostly I soothed how horrible I felt by knitting on a tiny, perfect baby bonnet.

The yarn is- well, not yarn, technically, but unspun mawata (silk hankies).  I love this bonnet. I love how soft it is - 100% silk is hard to beat in the softness department, and how light it is - a remarkable 4 grams, or (according to my conversion stuff .14 of an ounce.  (That doesn't seem right - what's the US equivalent of a gram? Isn't there anything smaller than an ounce?) 

I love the way that the minute this brand new bonnet was finished it looked like it was a hundred years old and had been taken out of your great grandmothers hope chest - when really it's on its way into mine.  (I'm a long way from grandchildren - I hope.)

I love the ribbon, and I love my first bungling attempts at ribbon roses.  

I love this bonnet so much that I instantly cast on for bootees. 

Naturally.  You'd be surprised how much better this all made me feel.  Joe's suggested it's the antibiotics starting to work, I say it's the power of the baby  bonnet - or maybe silk.  One of the two.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:44 PM

May 14, 2010

More like a calling than a job

This morning I asked Megan, on her way out the door to continue a summer job search, if she'd take a minute and model the finished May socks for me.

Pattern: Froot Loops, Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Sierra.

She consented, because she's a good girl (and wasn't in a hurry) and sat on the front steps, putting her feet this way and that, taking my directions and making a few suggestions of her own...

When we were done, Meg asked if she could see the pictures, and flipped through them one by one, essentially admiring her own feet.
At the end of the roll, Meg tapped one particularly good shot with her finger and said "Really - I could be a sock model for a job."

I stood there looking at her, and then I realized here's this kid, and she thinks that she could totally get a job modeling socks, and that maybe, knitblogging has really created some weird attitudes in my children.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:26 PM

May 12, 2010


On Sunday I went out with my kids for Mother's Day, and I had just the loveliest time.  They wrote me  charming cards, spoke civilly to me for a full morning,  took me for brunch and gave me flowers.  Nobody screamed, there was no drama, and nobody told me that they were pregnant, addicted to something or dropping out of school to follow a sexy beat poet/tree planter  across Canada.  It's taken almost 21 years to get a Mother's day like that, and it was pretty posh.  (Someday I'll be ready to talk about the pain of the Mother's Day of 1994, when 2/3 kids puked on me and the third one cried all day. Good times.)   Before we went out in the morning, I had a few minutes to weave in the ends on Kiama.  It's seen here unblocked, so the cast-off edge is curling up the littlest bit.  Now that it's had a bath it doesn't dare.

I love this jacket. 

Kiama, knit from Berroco Origami Yarn in "Sunset Rendez-vous".  Took one skein less than the pattern called for and was a pleasure to knit.   Big thanks to WEBS for getting the kit out to me so fast once I decided I wanted to knit it. (That Kathy Elkins, there's a woman who understands a yarn emergency.)

I knit this just about as instructed, except I did work some short rows to lengthen the fronts so that they would end somewhere more flattering than at my nipples.  (Look! I said nipple again!)

The fix is totally imperceptible, but the short rows are here-ish.

It turns out that this knit was just what I was hoping it would be, which is a chic, quick, go anywhere sort of jacket.

I think it looks even better with short sleeves, but it was way too cold here on Sunday to prove it to you. (I'm not really good at the whole "pain for beauty" thing.)  Just as an aside, this jacket can be worn the other way... upside down, so that the back is sort of open over the arse and it makes a big shawl collar.  I don't care for it that way, but my friend Andrea tried it on and loved it, so there you go. One jacket, two ways.  I got the feeling actually, when she was trying it on, that this might be one of those knits that looks good on most people, but I'm going to test that a little bit before I declare it.  Stay tuned. 

In the meantime, I've added something to my wardrobe that I really wanted.  A snazzy, interesting, year round knit that doesn't scream KNITTER in the same way that an aran cardigan does.  Instead, it sort of calmly states "Knitter" in a way that can absolutely go to a business meeting. I like that.

PS. Thanks to everyone who emailed about the silk retreat yesterday.  As of right this minute we have all spots filled - but just, and anyone who emails now will go on the wait list.  Last year 10 people from the list ended up getting in, so don't give up if you want to come. Still pretty good odds.)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:14 PM

May 11, 2010

A little knitter vacation

Back in November, Tina and I hosted the first of what we hoped would become a series of friendly, intimate, intensive retreats. Whether or not it became a series had mostly to do with whether or not people liked it and whether or not we had as good a time teaching in that setting as we thought we would. Turns out that it was just lovely, in about a thousand ways, and so we’re doing it again. We’ve mixed it up a bit to be interesting, this time bringing in another teacher (we’re so proud) and expanding the retreat for one extra day.

The retreat is July 9-12 2010 at the really beautiful Resort at Port Ludlow in Washington, we’ll host a long weekend retreat for knitters and spinners who are as interested in silk as we are. We’ll dye, spin and knit silk of many kinds in many ways, and we think it’s going to be fantastic. Beyond fantastic actually, since the dyeing teacher is Tina (you knew that) the knitting teacher is me (you suspected that as well, I’m sure) and the spinning teacher is (be still my heart) the one and only Judith MacKenzie. (See? You’re as excited as us, right?)

If you’d like to think about coming, the level for this retreat is “established”. Not tremendously experienced, but a little bit. You’ll need to be able to cast on and off, knit, purl, increase and decrease easily, and you should be comfortable with most basic knitting instructions. For the spinning part, you should be able to spin a continuous thread. (Note that we didn’t say that you should be able to knit well, or spin well. An basic beginner would be comfortable.)

The weekend begins when you check in on Friday night, and we all have an opportunity to talk, hang out (maybe have a drink) get to know each other, and you’re assigned to one of three small groups.

Saturday, Group one goes with Tina, to a big room with a floor covered in plastic and loaded with dye and silk, where you will explore every single nuance of colour in relationship to silk and its luxurious self.   You’ll explore the qualities of silk as they pertain to dyeing, and play with it in various forms. Cocoon to yarn, you’ll have a look at the fibre that is silk.  

Meanwhile, group two goes with me for an all day exploration of knitting silk. We’ll look at the structure of silk, how it behaves, what it does and doesn’t do, what types of yarn you find made from silk and how to best use and knit them. We’ll talk about blocking and caring for silk, and we’ll explore knitting with unspun mawata (silk hankies). (It’s seriously cool.) You’ll need your knitting needles with you. 

Over in the pretty room overlooking the water, group three sets up their spinning wheels (or spindles - if you don't have a wheel you can do most of the class on a spindle and borrow a wheel for a while to do the bits that demand it) to spend a day with Judith. (We would take a class from Judith on how to boil water. She’s just that interesting all on her own.) Judith has this to say about her class: "Sumptuous, luxurious, mysterious – silk is a fiber that catches both our senses and our imagination. In this class, we’ll learn how to spin a wide range of silks and silk blends including silk and cashmere and silk and qiviut. We’ll make silk yarn that is both spider web fine and lusciously large. Silk is perfect for making novelty yarns; we’ll make boucles, knot yarns , frosted and beaded yarns that will be as beautiful as jewels. Please bring your wheel and all its parts. Bring along any high speed pulleys or bobbins that came with your wheel. Bring four bobbins if you have them."

That evening, we gather to play more dye and paint games with silk - this time exploring ways to make plain silk scarves beautiful. You’ll have fabric paint (wait until you see what you can do) and if we’re lucky, explore a coldwater indigo dye bath and do a little silk reeling.

Sunday, the groups rotate places for the day classes, and then after dinner we’ll have a lecture and a show and tell. The teachers will tell about the history of silk, the silk road - and show you some wonderful pieces, and if you’re so inclined, we’d love to see what you’ve done with silk too. Bring your best.

Monday we rotate for classes again, and Monday night we have a wonderful social gathering for Q&A and talking about all we’ve learned, bid you farewell, and the retreat ends that evening.

The price includes classes, fun, all materials (except wheels, spindles and needles), and breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday, Sunday and Monday. (The food is fabulous, and we promise that there will be good vegetarian options.) We’ll have a little store on site with things that you might like.

Accommodations are separate and you will arrange those on your own. We have negotiated special prices with Port Ludlow, and there are some shared accommodations (condos and town-homes) if you’d like to come with your friends.

  Simply call Port Ludlow and tell them that you’re with Knot Hysteria and the knitters, and they will help you get sorted with the special knitter price. They are lovely and helpful people.

Price for the three day/three class intensive with meals:
 $735. (Credit card or paypal are fine) All Materials (except knitting needles and spinning wheels) included. (We are especially proud that even though we added and extra day of teaching, another teacher, three more meals, and way more expensive materials, that we have only had to up the price by $120 from the two day version. That took a lot of financial dancing, but we did it.)
Gift bags, presents and surprises forthcoming.

(If you’re a vendor and you’d like to talk to us about putting something in the gift bags, just drop us a line. We’d love it.)

To register, simply send an email to with “Silk Retreat” in the subject line, and include your name, address and daytime/nightime phone number, and either Tina or I will call you to arrange it. The first 45 knitters are in, and we can’t wait to see you.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:22 PM

May 7, 2010

Really Random Friday

1. Kiama's not finished, but the short rows look good. I think it's going to work, which would be about 8 kinds of awesome, since I love this piece.

2. I got a wii fit and have spent some time screwing around with it.  I'm not sure it's a killer workout or anything, and I think I might still prefer going to yoga or going for a run to doing it virtually in the living room, but it is raining today- and it is fun, I give it that.  I have to get over the anger I feel towards it that it gave me a "wii fit" age of 49 though.  Pretty insulting.

3. I started the May socks of my self-imposed sock club.  The zip lock I pulled at random this month had Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Sierra in it -

and it was paired with the Froot Loops socks from Knitty.

I think the combo's pretty good, and I'm already at the gussets of the first one.

4. I can't believe this self-imposed sock club thing is working, but it is.

5.  I also can't believe that I got mail about saying nipple and breasts in my blog post yesterday.  I've emailed back and forth with the people who sent mail, and everything is cool.  I'll tell you what I told them.  Nipple is not a dirty word.  They are present on (just about) every person on earth, and in mammals (and we are mammals) they serve a pretty good function. (Let me take that back by 50%.  I'm not sure of the purpose they serve on men.  I think nature can't figure out how to get them off.)  Nipple is no different a word than elbow. It cannot corrupt youth, get them pregnant or make them think about sex so much that they consider doing it. (Hint: Youth is already thinking about sex that much, even if you don't say nipple.)   Furthermore (and you can tell I really mean it when I start whipping out the furthermores) nipples, at least on women, are there for the purposes of nursing our young, and frankly, I think that maybe if we didn't have them all caught up in the crazy sex thing to the point that we can't even talk about them at all without feeling dirty or worried, then maybe women wouldn't be so totally screwed about what to do with them when a baby comes along.  From the perspective of someone who counseled breastfeeding women for years and years, I can tell you I really, really, really think it would have helped if the word nipple wasn't coming up for the first time when we were trying to attach 7 pounds of starving humanity to it. 

Nipple Nipple Nipple Breast.

(And yeah, I know what sort of spam that's going to get me.  I'll live with it.)

Posted by Stephanie at 4:03 PM

May 6, 2010

Seconds from a clean getaway

I just sat down to say that a tentative peace has settled over the house, with no upsets or emergencies for a few days now, and no sooner had I typed that than the cat heaved a hairball onto the living room carpet and the phone and internet went out.  I took this as it was intended - clearly a warning, and made a pot of coffee and sat down to knit until order was restored.  No more will be said of how well things are going. Apparently good days don't like direct eye contact.  Not a problem.

The Kiama jacket and I have taken up again with each other. I unpicked the bound off edge, and got all the stitches back on the needle, and I'm in the process of making the whole whack of the thing longer.  

When I decided to stop shorter than the pattern called for, it was because I was pretty happy with the length in the back. I'm short, most patterns aren't and I almost always shorten stuff to match my reality.  Unfortunately, as I was knitting this, my nature given wits apparently took their leave for a bit, and I didn't take into account that due to the funky construction,  shortening the back also shortened those drapey fronts.  Now, my front is as short as my back, so that would be cool, except for the rather inconvenient breasts that have to be taken into account.   On the model, those fronts drape past her breasts most elegantly (I suspect she may have more elegant breasts) but on me, now suddenly ended precisely at nipple height,  giving my normally rather normal looking assets a look that looked like I'd pitched a double-wide tent rather crookedly over a watermelon patch.

If you're having trouble visualizing that, just stop and be grateful that you didn't have to live the moment of low-self esteem that went with witnessing it. I'm 41, and I have working class breasts that have done a lot of service time, and I'm pretty okay with how (and where) they are, but really, after that experience,  I'm never going to think of them quite the same way.   I'm adding a couple of inches, but if I add as much as I think I need to give me the length that I want in the front, the whole business is going to be past my arse in the back. 

I think the answer is short rows.  I'm going to add to the length in the fronts without adding to the back, I hope.  Details tomorrow, assuming I finish and can take the emotional risk of trying it on again.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:28 PM

May 3, 2010


The events of the last few weeks have led me to believe that our family has been specially selected for an experiment in stress. On top of the strains that we've come to think of as normal since Christmas,  in the last week or two we've had one extended family member have major surgery, me away for sock camp,  been invaded by cluster flies, had an extended family member have a run in with a table saw that resulted in a pretty horrific accident,  (They're more or less okay now- though minus a couple of bits.) then the spouse of that person had their mother die. (She was old,  the circle of life stuff is easier to take, but still falls into the category of "really big deal".) Then the family member who had the surgery and was recovering nicely suffered a near fatal pulmonary embolism and scared the snot out of all of us.

My reaction to this has been to go where I am told, do as it is suggested would be helpful and to... um.  Knit socks.

(Yarn: JL Vinca colour 551. Very economical, but I can't speak to how long it will last.  It's 25% nylon, but rather loosely spun with the occasional slub. Time will tell. Sure is pretty)

Plain vanilla socks, churned out while waiting, while travelling to the funeral, while navigating phone calls...

In all of that though, through all of those really unlikely events occurring in a very unlikely manner, all twisted up together - the unlikeliest of all, was this.

My sister Erin learned to knit.  On these socks, in the back of the car on the way to the funeral.  Six of these rounds belong to her.  (Thanks to my brother Ian for the picture.)

Further to that, she liked it enough to ask for another go later.

And even looked like she enjoyed it. She's pretty good at it too.

Feel that cool breeze? Someone check the thermostat in Hades, will ya?

Posted by Stephanie at 4:12 PM